Coal and Mining Sector

Critical Minerals under iCET


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Critical Minerals, iCET

Why in the News?

What are Critical Minerals?

  • Critical minerals are elements that are crucial to modern-day technologies and are at risk of supply chain disruptions.
  • These minerals are mostly used in making electronic equipment such as mobile phones, computers, batteries, electric vehicles, and green technologies like solar panels and wind turbines.
  • Many of these are required to meet the manufacturing needs of green technologies, high-tech equipment, aviation, and national defence.

List of critical minerals includes:

The centre has released a list of 30 critical minerals for India in 2023:

  1. Identified Minerals: Antimony, Beryllium, Bismuth, Cobalt, Copper, Gallium, Germanium, Graphite, Hafnium, Indium, Lithium, Molybdenum, Niobium, Nickel, Platinum Group elements (PGE), Phosphorous, Potash, Rare Earth Elements (REE), Rhenium, Silicon, Strontium, Tantalum, Tellurium, Tin, Titanium, Tungsten, Vanadium, Zirconium, Selenium and Cadmium.
  2. Fertilizer Minerals: Two minerals critical for fertilizer production, phosphorous and potash, are also included in the above list.

Critical Mineral Blocks in India

  • Distribution: There are 20 blocks spread across eight states, including Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Types of Licenses: Four blocks are for a Mining License (ML), allowing immediate mining post-clearance. The remaining 16 blocks are for a Composite License (CL), permitting further exploration before potentially converting to an ML.
  • Approvals Required: Licensees must obtain various approvals, including forest clearance and environmental clearance.
  • Forest Land: Approximately 17% of the total concession area, or 1,234 hectares, is forest land.

India’s Critical Mineral Imports

  • Lithium Imports: In FY23, India imported 2,145 tonnes of lithium carbonate and lithium oxide, costing Rs 732 crore.
  • Nickel and Copper Imports: The country imported 32,000 tonnes of unwrought nickel and 1.2 million tonnes of copper ore, costing Rs 6,549 crore and Rs 27,374 crore, respectively.
  • Import Dependence: India relies entirely on imports for lithium and nickel, and 93% for copper.

Country-wise dependence:

  1. China: India heavily relies on China for the import of critical minerals like lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite.
  2. Australia: India is actively engaged with Australia for acquiring mineral assets, particularly lithium and cobalt, to secure its supply chain for critical minerals.
  3. Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile: India is engaging with these countries, known for their reserves of battery metals like lithium and cobalt, to diversify its sources for critical minerals.

India’s Strategic Mineral Initiatives

  • Amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 support expanded exploration.
  • Establishment of Khanij Bidesh India Ltd. (KABIL) with equity from National Aluminium Company Ltd, Hindustan Copper Ltd, and Mineral Exploration and Consultancy Ltd for global mineral asset acquisition.

International Collaborations and Partnerships

  • India joined the U.S.-led mineral security partnership to secure critical mineral supply chains.
  • Creation of an India-U.S. advanced materials research forum to foster collaboration in universities, laboratories, and private sectors.
  • Bilateral technology collaboration on neodymium-iron-boron and studies on minerals like lithium, titanium, gallium, and vanadium.

Back2Basics: Indo-US Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (iCET)

Initiation Announced in May 2022, officially launched in January 2023
Management Overseen by the National Security Councils of India and the US
Objectives Enhance bilateral cooperation in critical and emerging technologies
Focus Areas of the Initiative
  1. AI Research Agency Partnership
  2. Defense Industrial and Technological Cooperation
  3. Innovation Ecosystems
  4. Semiconductor Ecosystem Development
  5. Cooperation on Human Spaceflight
  6. Advancement in 5G and 6G Technologies
Key Achievements
  • Quantum Coordination Mechanism
  • Public-private dialogues on telecommunications and AI
  • MoU on semiconductor supply chain
  • Defense industrial cooperation roadmap
Upcoming Initiatives
  • Finalization of major jet engine deal
  • Launch of India-US Defence Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X)
  • Strategic Trade Dialogue establishment



[2019] With reference to the management of minor minerals in India, consider the following statements:

  1. Sand is a ‘minor mineral’ according to the prevailing law in the country.
  2. State governments have the power to grant mining leases of minor minerals, but the powers regarding the formation of rules related to the grant of minor minerals lie with the Central Government.
  3. State Governments have the power to frame rules to prevent illegal mining of minor minerals.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 3

(b) 2 and 3

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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